unlocking data to solve real world business challenges

Yesterday, I had the privilege to speak at the Olin College of Engineering at the Olin Innovation Lab hosted by the Olin CIO Joanne Kossuth.

OIL-March2016My keynote was titled “unlocking data to solve real world business challenges”. Think about it. The very data you need to solve a problem may be hidden away. Hidden, because that data can be located inside documents, images, videos, emails, or even inside a database. And what about file shares.

I shared some of the lessons I learned over the last 5 1/2 years leading the team at BP managing the information and data from the Gulf Oil Spill.

One example was the data locked away inside invoices for the spend responding to the spill. Some of the invoices were over 1000 pages. So, how do you unlock this data? We used intelligent optical character recognition to extract the data from the invoice. Then we imported that data into a database and linked that data to the invoice. Now invoice line item data within the invoice was available for queries and search. When the data of interest is found the analyst could click on the data result and view the original invoice information.

I will be sharing other examples of unlocking data over the next few posts. Eventually I will make my keynote available here on this site.

Question: What are some other examples of hidden data that you can think of? Leave a comment below.

Time to Retire the Term ECM???

It’s been at least 16 years since the term ECM (Enterprise Content Management) was coined. According to Wikipedia the Association of Image and Information Management Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM.org) defined ECM in 2000. Not sure if AIIM was really the original author but does it really matter? What does this term, ECM really mean?Time to retire?

The current AIIM definition of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes.

There was a recent post by Marko Sillanpää at Big Men on Content titled “Enterprise Content Management too Vague”. In his post Marko states: “Vendor representatives need to make ECM technology easier to understand and not more confusing.  I always feel I’m in an odd place when I have to say to a customer, “yes it is like ___ but we call it ___.””


I can tell you that to a “line of business” executive or decision maker they have no idea what ECM means. It seems that after 16 years of vendors, consultants, and information practitioners trying to explain ECM the result is that most folks walk away confused or more confused.

Maybe it’s time for a change.

I suggest we retire ECM as a term and adopt something else that is more meaningful to “line of business” executives and to everyone else.

The world of content has been changing over the last several years. Now we have semi-structured documents along with the insights and business value locked away in databases and geospatial data which need the context provided by “unstructured” documents to realize those insights and business value. The solutions needed are no longer principally document management.

We need to use the language that our stakeholders and business decision makers understand and can relate to. So, what do we use instead of ECM???

I propose that we use the term “Information & Data Management”. In my previous role as Director, Information & Data Management for the BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization I used this term with the business leaders of the organization. And they got it. This term or phrase was easily understood and I did not have work through a long litany of descriptions like I would if I used the “ECM” term. Notice the title I chose. I was very intentional about choosing that title and also naming the program I created to manage the information and data from the Gulf Oil Spill.

So, what do you think? Is it time to ditch ECM as a term and embrace “Information & Data Management” to describe the people, processes, and technologies we use to effectively manage the information and data that organizations create, receive, and leverage for business value and advantage?

Let me know what you think. Let’s start a healthy debate.

Joining a Very Special Group

MPj03865060000[1]I saw Greg Clark’s post over the weekend and realized I had neglected to mention; Starting later in April I am joining a very special group of thought leaders; aka the “AIIM Electronic Records Management Expert Bloggers”.

So, besides trying to climb back up on the BetterECM blog horse and start writing more frequently, I now will have Bryant Duhon cracking the whip to make sure I get my weekly AIIM ERM Expert Blog post in on time. This should be fun and the most exciting thing will be to see what my “expert” colleagues will have to say.

If you have topics that you would like me to tackle or questions you would like me to try and answer please add a comment and let me know. As most of my readers know, I am not bashful and love to take on challenging topics and issues head-on.

This should be fun!

Presenting Keynote at LegalTech 2010: Don’t Build your E-Discovery Program on a Digital Landfill


I will be presenting the opening keynote at LegalTech 2010 in New York city on February 1st.

My presentation entitled "Don’t Build Your E-Discovery Program on a Digital Landfill" will highlight some of the challenges in addressing information management within the EDRM model, show the correlation between sound practices and successful E-Discovery programs, and to provide specific action steps attendees can use to manage digital information overflow.

I feel like I will be preaching to the choir since most attendees already know how challenging this problem is but they will come away from my session with some actionable recommendations to help get control of the mounds of information at their companies.

Hope to see you there…

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New Years 2008: Looking Back & Looking Forward

leader in fieldHappy New Year to my loyal readers. I’ll bet many of you were wondering if I would ever write a post again. Well here we go…

Looking Back at 2007

Last year was a year of amazing change for me personally and for the ECM industry. A year ago today I would have never guessed that I would be making a significant career change in 2007 by accepting a new position with a Global 50 energy company with global scope and broad operational responsibility. All directly related to making ECM better for my company. Also this change would impact my family by moving us to Houston and involving travel globally on a regular (1-2 weeks per month) basis. Whew!

At the beginning of 2007 the big news was the launch of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 and the potential impact on the ECM marketplace. Also Web 2.0 was gaining ground and becoming part of the everyday lexicon. I even spoke about this at the Gilbane Conference in San Francisco last April; Is It Possible To Successfully Manage Content In The New Wild West: ECM In A Web 2.0 World. By the end of 2007 Web 2.0 has become somewhat passe’ and everyone is now talking about Enterprise 2.0 and some companies are actually doing something about it. Taking the Web 2.0 social technologies and capabilities and making them part of enterprise content management solutions.

Last month while in London for a couple of weeks I had the opportunity to meet with founders John Newton and Ian Howells at the Alfresco world headquarters. Alfresco is making ECM in a Web 2.0 world a reality by integrating the Alfresco content management platform with leading open source Web 2.0 social computing technologies and services such as Facebook for collaboration, iGoogle, Adobe Flex, MediaWiki for wikis, TypePad and WordPress for blogging. The idea is very interesting and I think they are on to something by providing corporate users with tools that are intuitive, easy to use and in some cases, ones that they already have experience with.

One thing I think is missing is a governance model for this type of extremely flexible and user controlled content management environment. What may be needed is what I am calling a Governance 2.0 model. I think if Alfresco proposes a governance model that addresses some of the security and compliance concerns that corporate users may have with this “Web 2.0” style ECM solution then they will really have something. I really want to thank both of them for sharing their ideas and thoughts with me last month.

Looking Forward

Looking forward toward 2008, I am excited at the possibilities the responsibilities of my new position offers. I am also responsible for the personal data privacy program for the company and will be expanding my horizons and knowledge in that direction. The biggest change I see looking forward is that I now have a chance to actually prove that I can make ECM better for a large multinational corporation. It has to be workable and I cannot do this for the organization or “to” the organization. My job will be to take the tools (both technical and procedural) and help the organization grow the capability to better manage information through people, process, and technology capabilities that my team helps to grow organically over time.

This is a huge challenge but I am eager to make a difference and continue to share what we learn. What works and what does not work. I am also committed to helping lead the effort to create a new professional discipline for information management professionals. I wrote about this before but my thinking and approach has evolved over the last four months. In my next post I will share my new manifesto that makes the case for this new professional discipline.

I am not one for New Years resolutions but I am committing to the goal of trying to write at least one post per week here at BetterECM. Now that I have drank from the fire hose over the last four months and have pieced together a plan going forward I think that this goal is achievable.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions and will continue to share what I learn and continue to learn from other’s outstanding blogs also. Thanks and Happy New Year!

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Effectively Managing Information Becomes Strategic: An Approach – Part 2

Missing Piece The two core issues which need to be addressed for “Effectively Managing Information Becomes Strategic” are how to effectively educate organizations on the strategic value of information and devising a well-defined career path for information management (IM) professionals.

As I thought about an approach to addressing the two core issues I wanted to look for an existing successful model to emulate.

Then it hit me…Six Sigma!

I looked back at the amazing transformation that has occurred over the last 20+ years around improving business processes and the success and popularity of Six Sigma and now Lean Manufacturing. Six Sigma was pioneered at Motorola over 20 years ago and was brought into mainstream business culture by GE and Honeywell. According to GE, “Six Sigma is a highly disciplined process that helps us focus on developing and delivering near-perfect products and services.”

Key Concepts of Six Sigma

Critical to Quality: Attributes most important to the customer
Defect: Failing to deliver what the customer wants
Process Capability: What your process can deliver
Variation: What the customer sees and feels
Stable Operations: Ensuring consistent, predictable processes to improve what the customer sees and feels
Design for Six Sigma:

Designing to meet customer needs and process capability

Lean Manufacturing is a generic process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS) but also from other sources. Its success is based on reduction of the original Toyota ‘seven wastes’ in order to improve overall customer value. Core to the philosophy is the elimination of waste (streamlining processes where possible) and continuous improvement.

One Six Sigma feature that appealed to me in designing a new model for addressing the effective management of information was the establishment of rigorous training for Six Sigma practitioners. The fact that there are defined levels of competence; Green Belt for initial training, Black Belt for more advanced training and certification and then Master Black Belt, is very attractive. Another reason this model appealed to me was the broad recognition of the methodology and the perceived strategic importance of implementing Six Sigma programs and having Six Sigma professionals in the organization.

In my next post I will describe my proposed model.

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